Global wind energy capacity surged by 28.8% in 2008, as the U.S. became the world's leading market, according to The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
A report by the group said the U.S. and China showed the strongest growth in wind energy as the global electric-generating capacity rose to 120.8 gigawatts at the end of 2008. "These figures speak for themselves: there is huge and growing global demand for emissions-free wind power, which can be installed quickly, virtually everywhere in the world," said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of GWEC.
"Wind energy is the only power-generation technology that can deliver the necessary cuts in carbon dioxide," Sawyer added.
The U.S. accounted for 8.35 gigwatts of the new total capacity, increasing its capacity by 50%, to overtake Germany as number one in wind power, with a total of 25.1 gigawatts compared to 23.9 gigawatts. Germany however gets a much higher percentage of its electricity from wind power, according to industry figures.
The council said the global wind market for turbine installations in 2008 was worth about $47.5 billion.
"Wind power is often the most attractive option for new power generation in both economic terms and in terms of increasing energy security, not to mention the environmental and economic development benefits, said GWEC chairman Arthouros Zervos. "Volatile fossil fuel prices and unreliable supply policies from fossil fuel-rich countries increase the risk of relying on conventional sources for power production."
Wind power accounted for about 42% of the new power capacity last year in the U.S. and one-third in Asia.
China doubled its installed capacity by adding about 6.3 gigawatts, reaching a total of 12.2 gigawatts. "The Chinese wind energy market is going from strength to strength, and has once again doubled in size compared to 2007, reaching over 12 GW of total installed capacity," said Shi Pengfei, vice president of the Chinese Wind Energy Association. "The outlook for the coming years is also very healthy." At this rate, China would be well on its way to overtake Germany and Spain to reach second place in terms of total wind power capacity in 2010, the council said.
In Europe, almost 8.9 gigwatts' worth of new wind turbines came online in 2008, the biggest source of new power capacity, with the biggest growth in Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Britain. "The European figures show that wind energy is the undisputed number one choice in Europe's efforts to move towards clean, indigenous renewable power," said Christian Kjaer of the European Wind Energy Association.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009